The festival of colours is around once more and after the long sufferings of Covid19, it is a celebration time again. So here’s wishing you all a very very happy, safe, sweet & colorful Holi. The Indian festivals be it Holi or Diwali, are truly incomplete without sweets, so along with all other special delicacies for the festival, sweets occupy a special place in the palate. After the end of the winter, the season remains quite dry before the onset of the monsoon in India & Holi is mostly celebrated during this season. So, the season itself demands something to wet the quenched throats after a daylong play with colours & to energize the thirsty souls to keep us going for the rest of the day. So, thandai, lassi, sherbets, rasmalai, phirni, kheer, rasgulla or jalebi, everything will just work wonders for the Holi revellers. I thought of sharing this Shrikhand recipe for this Holi as this is also on the similar lines. Shrikhands are usually the desserts of choice being healthier and lighter on stomach & are perfect for this season. This is one of the simplest yet heavenly dessert I have ever made. Being a dessert lover I found it quite a good choice to satisfy your sweet cravings in a healthy way.
Shrikhand is deeply rooted in the Indian culture and has been mentioned as “Shikhrini” in the Sanskrit literature. As its name suggests, it is an ancient dish or one of the oldest desserts that originated in the Indian subcontinent. Shrikhand is believed to have originated in the ancient Indian state of Maharashtra at around 400 B.C., according to Jashbhai B. Prajappati and Baboo M. Nair, in the book ‘The History of Fermented Foods’. However the exact origin of Shrikhand is still disputed and historically it was Western India, where it was mentioned for the first time . Also, the “Shrikhand ” as we know it now, appeared in the writings on food in Kannada as “Shikarini ” at around 1025 AD . However, later in ‘Supa Shastra’ by the poet Mangarasa in 1594 AD, this dish was referred to as “Shrikhand” . Although there is no story or record of how the dish came about, it was assumed that traveling herdsmen used to hang curd or yoghurt overnight to make it easier for them to carry while traveling. The thick whey free yoghurt collected next day, was mixed with sugar and nuts to make it palatable. Another assumption for the origin of the word Shrikhand is that it comes from ksheer, meaning thickened milk in Sanskrit and Qand, meaning sweet in Parsi suggesting that the dish might have been brought to Western India by the Parsis who came to India in 8-10th century AD. Another interesting legend has it that during the Mahabharata era, the famous Pandava Bhima used to prepare this dish. The dish is also believed to be named after the Lord Krishna around that time. It may be due to this reason that Shrikhand is also offered to Lord Krishna during the Janmashtami festival in Western India. There are also references late in the history, where Peshwa Bajirao of Maratha Empire was very fond of this dessert. In India, it travelled from ancient to modern times without much variation and its popularity grew over time becoming a part of the greater Indian culture and its cuisine and hence have become a worthy candidate for the vibrant festivals and celebrations in India.
Shrikhands are flavoured in many different forms as they are the perfect candidates when you want to play with your imagination. The usual versions are being kesar-elaichi or simply elaichi (cardamom) flavoured. Other than this, mango or orange shrikhand are also quite popular nowadays. This nolen gur version of shrikhand is such a wonderful treat for all the nolen gur lovers like me that it can even beat the Bengal’s most treasured nolen gur flavoured Mishti Doi and I insist this version as a must try for all who die for the most adorable nolen gur of Bengal. This nolen gur shrikhand paired with cashew-almond chikki & drizzled with some jhola gur (liquid nolen gur) will make you fall in love with it even more with each spoon you gulp in. You will be able make it very easily at home if you manage to get some nolen gur now as the season has just ended. You just have to plan a day before and nothing much is required and also since it won’t consume much of your time while preparing it for the next day. So, go ahead if you want to try this delicious dessert for your celebrations. My recipe is here for you : 👇
1) Fresh curd (plain) – 400 gm
2) Date palm jaggery (nolen gur) finely crushed – 2tbs
3)For garnishing – a) Cashew-Almond chikki ( traditional indian nut and jaggery sweet cakes)
b) Liquid nolen gur ( jhola gur)
A bowl of nolen gur shrikhand topped with nuts chikki drizzled with jhola gur.
1) Take the curd in a muslin cloth or cheese cloth over a deep bowl.
2) Bring the four edges of the cloth together and tie one of the edges tightly around the other three to make a knot.
3) Put the tied muslin cloth on a strainer over a deep bowl. Squeeze gently to see the whey coming out of it.
(Note : The bowl should be deep enough so that the collected whey do not touch the curd over the strainer.)
4) Place a heavy bowl or any weight over the muslin cloth to squeeze out the whey or else you can use a hook to hang it.
5) Keep the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight to drain the water completely. (Note : You may use this whey for many of your regular use in food items like chapatis & gravies etc..)
6) Take out the curd in muslin cloth and collect it in a bowl. Your hung curd is now ready for flavouring.
7) Add the sweetener & flavouring ingredients to prepare the shrikhand. (Note : The sweetener is usually powdered sugar, but you are using jaggery instead of sugar here.)
8) Crush the jaggery finely in a bowl and keep aside.
9) Add the jaggery in portions to the hung curd & start mixing using a wired whisk.
(Note : If you have electric beater or blender, you may use that to whip your hung curd that will save more of your time as whipping with wired whisk takes little time, but be patient as the results are rewarding.)
10) Whip the curd till it becomes smooth & creamy and the jaggery blends completely with your hung curd & no granules are left.
(Note : The colour turns slightly brownish pink /pinkish brown due to the hue of nolen gur.)
11. Check the sweetness & add more jaggery if you require.
12. Scrape the edges of the wire and the sides of the bowl nicely using a spatula to collect the remaining curd and add to the bowl.
13. Refrigerate the flavoured & sweetened hung curd to chill it.
14. Your chilled shrikhand is now ready to be served. You may serve it as it is or garnish it with pieces of cashew-almond chiki & drizzle with little liquid nolen gur over it to get that extra yum…..😋